Carl Braun Paxette

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Carl Braun Paxette

The Carl Braun Paxette seems to have been a popular camera, judging by the number of available cameras on eBay and the abundance of online articles about it.

All began with a Pax, a 1950 box model wishing peace upon a troubled post-war world. The closely named Paxina followed in the same year as a no-frills 120-format viewfinder, variants of which continued for about a decade. The Paxette name came on board in 1951, carrying some forty models meant to be high-end Carl Braun cameras. It is an odd name choice, as most other manufacturers used the ‘ette’ suffix as a pet name for lower-class cameras.

The Paxette cameras can be grouped into three generations:

  • The early, all-metal, with the Paxette severe distinct looks.
  • The Super Paxette, Automatic and Electromatic models, having softer, rounded lines.
  • The 28 and 35 models, Instamatic-type cameras.

See the searchable table below for all Paxette models.

The Paxette had a model naming convention, not without exception:

  • No suffix – Base, early model
  • ‘I’ – Base, early model
  • ‘II’ – Interchangeable lens, thread mount
  • ‘III’ – Interchangeable lens, bayonet mount
  • ‘B’ – Photoelectric meter
  • ‘L’ – Lever winder, suffix dropped at later models
  • ‘M’ – Rangefinder
  • ‘Super’ – Coupled rangefinder

Paxette 1st generation

The early Paxette models were an eclectic mix of viewfinders and rangefinders, lasting from 1951 to 1956, when the Super models came on board. True to German camera makers’ tradition, the cameras were offered with a long list of shutters and lenses, a kind of mix-and-match. As with others, I believe this was due to inconsistent supply chain restraints with post-war component makers.

The first models had a flat top that was later changed to a stepped top, which defined the Paxette signature style. See the table below for the models evolution.

The early Paxette models had two front viewer windows, which are mistaken for rangefinder configuration. The Baldina has a similar arrangement, with the extra pane blocked. Here, the second pane contains an extinction meter. The classic German extinction meter appeared as an additional, elongated pane at the front, showing the values as a strip. Here, the values are lumped together within a round window, which takes some eye gymnastics to decipher. The now-extinct distinction meters show a range of gradually darkened numbers, where the user selects the brightest value visible, which is the recommended EV. In some cameras, the values are translated to shutter/aperture combination via matching values on the lens dials. Here, the user needs to consult an external table.

Late Paxette ‘I’ models had either knob or lever winders. Model identification can be confusing. The ‘I’ definition was added once model ‘II’ was introduced

Paxette 2nd generation

There is no clear cut between the first and second generation, The Paxette II and the Super Paxettes are true rangefinders. A Selenium meters that replaced the extinction meters were added to the Electromatic, Automatic,  and the models marked ‘B’. This group was a mix of new and old technology and shape, was short-lived and lasted for only half a decade.

Where the early, classic models had fixed lenses. The II series added interchangeable lenses mounted on a 39mm thread. Although it is the same thread as the Leica Thread Mount, the lenses are incompatible and have different indexes. The LTM is made for a focal plane shutter, and the Paxette uses a leaf shutter closer to the lens, so the lens is further away from the focal plane.

Series III replaced the threaded mount with a preparatory bayonet mount, where Carl Braun offered a long list of matching lenses.

Paxette 3rd generation

The models marked 28 and 35 were the last Paxettes, an Instamatic type, using #126 cartridges. This generation was a pale shadow of the fully featured, well-built early models. Conceding into making these Idiotenkameras, I assume the company gave up on being a meaningful player in this competitive market.

Paxette SLR models

Trying to bank on the successful Paxette name, Carl Braun added three compact SLR models under Paxette Reflex name. Neither was successful, not the least reason was the cost, starting at DM 380, about 2,200 Euro today, a massive sum for a newly introduced camera. In comparison, the Paxette I viewfinder cost was DM 120.

Rebirth

In the 1980s, long after Carl Braun ceased making cameras, a third party bought the name, introducing numerous cheap point-and-shoot cameras and several modern SLR models, probably Chinon or Cosina rebrands. Neither are of any value today.

Braun Paxette I

There are several versions of the Paxette I. The earlier were named just Paxette, and the ‘I’ definition was added to differentiate it from the model II. There are several shutter and lens combinations, as stated above. Typical of this model is the flat top and the absence of the four horns over the lens assembly, added in the II series. This model was sold in the UK under Paxette I AL. Early versions had a knob winder, later replaced by a lever.

The camera is well-built and finished, a sterling example of the German industrial rebound. It is compact yet offers all the features that are available at the time. Shutter speeds are heavy on slow speeds to match film speeds offered than. The lens is the de-facto 2.8/45 standard, almost uniform across all camera makers. All dials and settings are where you expect to find them to be; no awkward design quirks. The frame counter is within the accessory shoe, easy to read and reset.

Having said that, the following need clarifications:

  • The winder cocks the shutter as well. Most makers in this camera generation still had a cocking lever over the lens barrel.
  • The trigger is still a lever on the lens barrel, meeting the right index finger.
  • The self-timer lever on the bottom is locked in place. To activate, pull down the knurled knob by it. Assume the lock was added to avoid accidental engaging.
  • There are two synch ports, catering to new and old styles at the time.
  • At the back, two viewer windows.
    • The left is the viewer, tiny and dim.
    • The right is an extinction meter window showing a group of numbers. Select the brightest and use the table on the camera case to translate to camera settings. The table is copied here.
  • The frame counter is within the accessory shoe and is easy to read and reset.
  • The back is fully removable, secured by a large thumb screw at the bottom.
  • A spring at the back supports the flap over the film path. It is well designed, so all falls in place when remounting the back cover. I wish I could say this on other cameras, where installing the back is an exercise in patience and finger agility.
  • A nice touch is an arm that holds the film cartridge in place.
  • The pinhead by the winder is the rewind release.

Braun Paxette II M

This and the above camera were lying on my bench for some time, and I tried to identify which was which. I think I have finally done that. The II M is another well-made camera that did/does not get the respect it deserves from collectors and users. You may get this splendid model for nearly nothing on eBay, and I highly recommend doing so.

The camera looks much like its predecessor, as described above. Added visible features are the extended top housing the accessory shoe and the four horns around the lens base. In other models, similar horns contain some mechanical components. Here, it is to hold the front part of the lens barrel.

This model has its quirks.

  • For lack of other description, the lever winder takes a stroke and a half. I first assumed it was dead, as the shutter did not respond after one stroke. Although I saw it on another model, it is uncommon, and I cannot remember which. Do not mean a Leica.
  • Another odd feature is that there is a rangefinder, but not coupled with the lens. The small serrated dial by the winder’s pointy edge actuates the rangefinder mirrors, and the readings are to be manually transferred to the lens distance ring. It is cumbersome and unintuitive and the dial is difficult to read. The viewer is tiny and dim.
  • The little pin head by it is the rewind release.
  • The trigger is a lever on the lens barrel that meets the right index finger.
  • On the opposite side, a lever selects between X/M synch and V for self-timer.
  • The lens front assembly easily unscrews, using an M39 thread, incompatible with LTM.
  • On my model, distance is marked in feet and meters, one size fits all.
  • Back removal and innards are the same as the Paxette I above.

The two cameras described above came from thrift stores at a cost that was offensive to the cameras. Besides a slightly bent lens crown of the IIM, both look and function as if yesterday left the line. It is a badge of honour for a less-appreciated camera maker.  For the collector, I would take pride in having these models on the shelf.

Paxette camera family list

More specification below table

image linkstyle linkYearTypeMeterWinderMountsize
Paxette 1951ViewfinderExtinctionKnobFixed 35mm
Paxette 28 1965ViewfinderNoLeverFixed126
Paxette 28 Auto 1967ViewfinderSeleniumLeverFixed126
Paxette 28 B 1967ViewfinderSeleniumLeverFixed126
Paxette 28 BC 1967ViewfinderSeleniumLeverFixed126
Paxette 28 F 1967ViewfindernoLeverFixed126
Paxette 28 LK 1967ViewfinderSeleniumLeverFixed126
Paxette 35 Auto 1963ViewfinderSeleniumLeverFixed 35mm
Paxette 35 B 1964ViewfinderSeleniumLeverFixed 35mm
Paxette 35 LK 1963ViewfinderSeleniumLeverFixed 35mm
Paxette 35 SB 1963ViewfinderSeleniumLeverFixed 35mm
Paxette Automatic I 1958RangefinderSeleniumLeverFixed 35mm
Paxette Automatic III Super 1961RangefinderSeleniumLeverBayonet 35mm
Paxette Electromatic 1959ViewfinderSeleniumLeverFixed 35mm
Paxette Electromatic I 1960ViewfinderSeleniumLeverFixed 35mm
Paxette Electromatic Ia 1962ViewfinderSeleniumLeverinterchangabl 35mm
Paxette Electromatic II 1960ViewfinderSeleniumLeverFixed 35mm
Paxette Electromatic III 1961ViewfinderSeleniumLeverFixed 35mm
Paxette Electromatic IIs 1960ViewfinderSeleniumLeverFixed 35mm
Paxette Electromatic Luxus 1960ViewfinderSeleniumLeverFixed 35mm
Paxette I 1953ViewfinderExtinctionKnob / leverFixed 35mm
Paxette I AL 1958ViewfinderExtinctionleverFixed 35mm
Paxette I L 1958ViewfinderExtinctionleverFixed 35mm
Paxette I M 1954ViewfinderNoleverFixed 35mm
Paxette I A 1956ViewfinderExtinctionKnobFixed 35mm
Paxette I B 1956ViewfinderExtinctionKnobFixed 35mm
Paxette II 1959ViewfinderExtinctionlever39mm 35mm
Paxette II BL 1958ViewfinderUncoupledlever39mm 35mm
Paxette II L 1958Viewfindernolever39mm 35mm
Paxette II M 1953Rangefindernolever39mm 35mm
Super Paxette 35 1964RangefinderCoupledlever39mm 35mm
Super Paxette I 1956RangefinderNoKnobFixed 35mm
Super Paxette I B 1956RangefinderNoKnobFixed 35mm
Super Paxette I L 1958RangefinderNoKnobFixed 35mm
Super Paxette II 1958RangefinderNolever39mm 35mm
Super Paxette II B 1955RangefinderCoupledlever39mm 35mm
Super Paxette II BL 1956RangefinderCoupledlever39mm 35mm
Super Paxette II L 1958RangefinderCoupledlever39mm 35mm
Super Paxette II M 1962RangefinderCoupledlever39mm 35mm
Super Paxette Automatic 1960Rangefinder 35mm
1963ViewfindernoLeverFixed126

Camdex list number 9702 9713
Brand Braun Carl Braun Carl
Model Paxette I Paxette II M
Manual Butkus
Value camdex camdex
Format 35mm 35mm
Introduced 1953 1953
AKA
Country Germany Germany
Qty made
Initial price 120 144
Currency DM DM
Type Viewfinder Rangefinder
Body material Metal Metal
Mode Manual Manual
Weight 430 gr,  Body with lens 440 gr,  Body only
Class average weight 460 gr,  Body with lens 450 gr,  Body only
ASA range Memo only Memo only
Kit lens 2.8/45 2.8/50
Lens make Staeble Kata Staeble Braun  Ultralit
Filter size N/A 40.5mm
Lens mount Fixed lens Thread
Mount size N/A 39mm
Aperture
Shutter Leaf Leaf
Shutter make Prontor S Prontor SVS
Light meter Extinction None
Winder Knob Lever, 1.5 strokes
Lock No No
Speeds B, 1-300 B, 1-300
Mirror N/A N/A
Viewer Viewfinder Rangefinder
DOF preview No No
Exposure lock No No
Exposure compensation No No
Shoe Cold Cold
External sync X X/M
Sync speed
Timer Yes, mechanical Yes, mechanical
Battery, original N/A N/A
Battery, replacement N/A N/A
Battery voltage N/A N/A
Integral flash None None
Other
Service / repair links See camerlog.com See camerlog.com
More

Braun Paxette I images

Braun Paxette IIM images

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